Les Blank

Les Blank: Always for Pleasure

Les Blank: Always for Pleasure

An uncompromisingly independent filmmaker, Les Blank made documentaries for nearly fifty years, elegantly disappearing with his camera into cultural spots rarely seen on-screen—mostly on the peripheries of the United States, but also occasionally abroad. Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to music, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights. This collector’s set provides a diverse survey of Les Blank’s vast output, including fourteen of his best-known works and eight related short films.
For more information on the individual films, click here.

Film Info

  • Les Blank
  • United States
  • 1968
  • 563 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.33:1
  • English
  • Spine #737

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restorations of all fourteen films, with uncompressed monaural or stereo soundtracks on the Blu-rays:
    The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1968 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Soon after founding his production company, Flower Films, Les Blank got up close to the legendary Texas blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins for this rollicking film.
    God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance (1968 • 20 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank took his camera to the historic 1967 Easter Sunday love-in in Los Angeles for this immersive, even spiritual collage of a film.
    Spend It All (1971 • 43 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank journeys down the bayous and byways of Southwest Louisiana in this riveting portrait of the region’s Cajun community.
    A Well Spent Life (1971 • 44 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Musician Mance Lipscomb commands the screen in Blank’s vivid sketch of a man some consider the greatest blues guitarist who ever lived.
    Dry Wood (1973 • 37 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank ventured back to Southwest Louisiana for this work of ramshackle beauty, an immersion in the region’s black Creole community that teems with delightful detail.
    Hot Pepper (1973 • 54 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This is an energetic portrait of the Grammy-winning Creole musician Clifton Chenier, a.k.a. the King of Zydeco; Blank beautifully captures his music’s propulsive, foot-tapping joy.
    Always for Pleasure (1978 • 57 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank’s raucous tribute to the sights, sounds, and flavors of New Orleans is perhaps his most sustained representation of pure joy.
    Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980 • 50 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and Spanish with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) More than just a nonfiction lark, Blank’s highly personal film ode to the “stinking rose” is a loving tribute both to a food that unites the most disparate of cuisines and to the East Bay, California, community that appears on-screen.
    Sprout Wings and Fly (1983 • 30 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This is a warm depiction of the life of old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
    In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984 • 49 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) A cinematic jamboree, this film finds Blank in a characteristically jubilant mode as he explores “polka happiness” and the Polish American polka subculture.
    Gap-Toothed Women (1987 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank breezily questions our commonly accepted standards of beauty with this paean to women with extra-wide dental spaces.
    Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking (1990 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Accordionist Marc Savoy and his family and friends show us how to make goo courtbouillon, gumbo, étouffée, boudin, and other Cajun and Creole delights.
    The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists (1994 • 53 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This portrait of the free-spirited painter and singing cowboy Gerald Gaxiola is a testament to creativity unencumbered by commerce.
    Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella (1995 • 34 minutes • Color • Stereo • In English and Spanish with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) The impassioned rhythms of Francisco Aguabella’s conga propel this portrait of the great Afro-Cuban percussionist.
  • Excerpt from Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation, a film project by Harrod Blank and Gina Leibrecht
  • New interviews with Blank’s sons, Harrod and Beau; Blank documentary subject Gerald Gaxiola (a.k.a. the Maestro); Blank’s friends and collaborators Skip Gerson, Maureen Gosling, Taylor Hackford, Werner Herzog, Susan Kell, Tom Luddy, David Silberberg, and Chris Simon; and chef and author Alice Waters
  • Related shorts by Blank: The Sun’s Gonna Shine (1968), More Fess (1978), Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991), My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1994), and The Maestro Rides Again (2005)
  • Two outtake performances from The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Andrew Horton
    New cover by Eric Skillman

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restorations of all fourteen films, with uncompressed monaural or stereo soundtracks on the Blu-rays:
    The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1968 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Soon after founding his production company, Flower Films, Les Blank got up close to the legendary Texas blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins for this rollicking film.
    God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance (1968 • 20 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank took his camera to the historic 1967 Easter Sunday love-in in Los Angeles for this immersive, even spiritual collage of a film.
    Spend It All (1971 • 43 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank journeys down the bayous and byways of Southwest Louisiana in this riveting portrait of the region’s Cajun community.
    A Well Spent Life (1971 • 44 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Musician Mance Lipscomb commands the screen in Blank’s vivid sketch of a man some consider the greatest blues guitarist who ever lived.
    Dry Wood (1973 • 37 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank ventured back to Southwest Louisiana for this work of ramshackle beauty, an immersion in the region’s black Creole community that teems with delightful detail.
    Hot Pepper (1973 • 54 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This is an energetic portrait of the Grammy-winning Creole musician Clifton Chenier, a.k.a. the King of Zydeco; Blank beautifully captures his music’s propulsive, foot-tapping joy.
    Always for Pleasure (1978 • 57 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank’s raucous tribute to the sights, sounds, and flavors of New Orleans is perhaps his most sustained representation of pure joy.
    Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980 • 50 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and Spanish with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) More than just a nonfiction lark, Blank’s highly personal film ode to the “stinking rose” is a loving tribute both to a food that unites the most disparate of cuisines and to the East Bay, California, community that appears on-screen.
    Sprout Wings and Fly (1983 • 30 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This is a warm depiction of the life of old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
    In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984 • 49 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) A cinematic jamboree, this film finds Blank in a characteristically jubilant mode as he explores “polka happiness” and the Polish American polka subculture.
    Gap-Toothed Women (1987 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Blank breezily questions our commonly accepted standards of beauty with this paean to women with extra-wide dental spaces.
    Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking (1990 • 31 minutes • Color • Monaural • In English and French with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Accordionist Marc Savoy and his family and friends show us how to make goo courtbouillon, gumbo, étouffée, boudin, and other Cajun and Creole delights.
    The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists (1994 • 53 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) This portrait of the free-spirited painter and singing cowboy Gerald Gaxiola is a testament to creativity unencumbered by commerce.
    Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella (1995 • 34 minutes • Color • Stereo • In English and Spanish with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) The impassioned rhythms of Francisco Aguabella’s conga propel this portrait of the great Afro-Cuban percussionist.
  • Excerpt from Les Blank: A Quiet Revelation, a film project by Harrod Blank and Gina Leibrecht
  • New interviews with Blank’s sons, Harrod and Beau; Blank documentary subject Gerald Gaxiola (a.k.a. the Maestro); Blank’s friends and collaborators Skip Gerson, Maureen Gosling, Taylor Hackford, Werner Herzog, Susan Kell, Tom Luddy, David Silberberg, and Chris Simon; and chef and author Alice Waters
  • Related shorts by Blank: The Sun’s Gonna Shine (1968), More Fess (1978), Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991), My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1994), and The Maestro Rides Again (2005)
  • Two outtake performances from The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Andrew Horton
    New cover by Eric Skillman
Les Blank: Always for Pleasure

From The Current

Alice Waters on Garlic
Alice Waters on Garlic

A film about garlic? Only Les Blank could pull it off. In this clip from a new supplement on our release Les Blank: Always for Pleasure, we get the story of how Blank’s pungent documentary Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers came about from his colla…

/
A Well Spent Life: No Man Like Mance
A Well Spent Life: No Man Like Mance

Les Blank’s documentaries focusing on musicians are wonderfully easygoing and authentic. Watching films like A Well Spent Life, a 1971 portrait of Texas blues guitarist Mance Lipscomb, one senses a relationship of total trust between subjects and f…

/
Always for Pleasure: How to Cook and Eat a Crawfish
Always for Pleasure: How to Cook and Eat a Crawfish

The famous Franky & Johnny’s is just one of many places in New Orleans you can get crawfish, a city specialty. But it’s the only one that Les Blank turned to when he was making Always for Pleasure, his invigorating celebration of the Big Easy…

/
Werner Herzog on Les Blank
Werner Herzog on Les Blank

There are few greater admirers of the late documentarian Les Blank than the legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog. (The two were already close when Blank filmed the making of Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo for Burden of Dreams.) So we knew we wanted to t…

/
Les Blank’s Cinéma Vitalité
Les Blank’s Cinéma Vitalité

More than just observational, Les Blank’s sensual documentaries are personal and participatory celebrations of American culture.

By Andrew Horton

/
A Mouthful of Blank in New Orleans

Repertory Picks

A Mouthful of Blank in New Orleans

Tonight, Shotgun Cinema in New Orleans screens a piquant sampling of the wildly idiosyncratic documentaries of Les Blank.

/
Tunde Adebimpe’s Top 10

Tunde Adebimpe is the lead singer of the Brooklyn-based band TV on the Radio. In addition to his music, he is also an animator, visual artist, and actor.


Les Blank: Always for Pleasure
Les Blank: Always for Pleasure

The challenge of designing this box set was in finding a way to convey both the vast scope of the filmmaker’s overarching project—documenting the unique idiosyncrasies of regions and communities rarely seen on film—and the warm, casual intimacy